BepiColombo blasted off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on an Ariane 5 rocket at 01:45 GMT on Saturday, 20 October. Signal was acquired, separation sequence performed, solar arrays deployed and LEOP (launch and early orbit phase) almost completed. The long journey to Mercury has started.
SSC is proud to be supporting this trail-blazing planetary mission of ESA by providing Engineering Services to the Flight Control Team.
BepiColombo is the first European mission to Mercury, the smallest and least explored planet in the inner Solar System, and the first to send two spacecraft to make complementary measurements of the planet and its dynamic environment at the same time. The mission comprises two science orbiters: ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and JAXA’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO). The ESA-built Mercury Transfer Module (MTM) will carry the orbiters to Mercury using a combination of solar electric propulsion and gravity assist flybys.
Image: BepiColombo liftoff. Credit: ESA – S. Corvaja